Big Ten Power Rankings

1. MICHIGAN STATE

Last time around: 2

This week: Wisconsin (Feb. 16), at Purdue (Feb. 19)

For the first time in a long time, we have a new top dog in the Big Ten Power Rankings. Michigan State went into Value City Arena and took care of business against an Ohio State team that hadn’t lost in its own arena in 39 games. Draymond Green continues to be excellent. And the rest of the Spartan frontline seems to be improving, especially Adreian Payne — who had his best game of his career against the Buckeyes. If Keith Appling can remain consistent, the Spartans can remain on top fro the rest of the season. But don’t sleep on the Buckeyes, who are still the most talented team in the Big Ten.

2. OHIO STATE

Last time around: 1

This week: at Minnesota (tonight), at Michigan (Feb. 18)

Teams are beginning to realize how to slow down Jared Sullinger, and that’s not good news for Ohio State, especially this late in the season. With Sullinger in check, the Buckeyes need William Buford to be the All-Big Ten talent that he is capable of being. Buford took over against Purdue, keeping the Buckeyes in the game, and he’ll be the X-factor in huge remaining road games against Michigan and Michigan State. Those two games will decide the Buckeyes’ fate heading into the Big Ten Tournament.

3. MICHIGAN

Last time around: 4

This week: Ohio State (Feb. 18)

Along with Indiana, Michigan is in one of the best situations, matchup-wise, heading into the postseason. The Wolverines only play one game against a ranked opponent — their next matchup with Ohio State — and with only half-game separating them and the top spot in the Big Ten, Michigan could very well finish the season as conference champs. That success has come largely without an effective Tim Hardaway Jr., and one has to wonder how impressive Michigan would be if Hardaway could hit shots consistently. The game against the Buckeyes at Crisler Arena will be a critical litmus test.

4. INDIANA

Last time around: 5

This week: Northwestern (Feb. 15), at Iowa (Feb. 19)

The Hoosiers’ move up the Big Ten Power Rankings is partially due to them earning it and partially due to my own vote of confidence. I think the Hoosiers are back to the kind of basketball that yielded so much success early on. Cody Zeller is playing his best basketball. So is Victor Oladipo. And if Christian Watford can join that group and make it a trio, the Hoosiers could make some serious noise in the postseason. With just a few months of success though, Indiana is the most likely candidate in this top group to revert back to its old ways. But with their last few games in mind, I think the Hoosiers will stay on the right track.

5. WISCONSIN

Last time around: 3

This week: at Michigan State (Feb. 16), Penn State (Feb. 19)

The Badgers are who we thought they were — a solid defensive team that is definitely capable of slipping up. They probably don’t deserve to have fallen two spots in these Power Rankings, considering they’ve only lost to Ohio State since Jan. 8. And with Jordan Taylor playing as well as he has recently, Wisconsin could very well be contenders down the stretch. I still don’t think the Badgers’ style of play will outlast some of the more talented teams down the stretch in the Big Ten — they still play Michigan State and Ohio State — but it’s hard to tell with Bo Ryan’s squad.

6. PURDUE

Last time around: 7

This week: at Illinois (Feb. 15), Michigan State (Feb. 19)

The Boilermakers haven proven time and time again that they are as middle-of-the-road as possible in this conference. Purdue has lost four of its last six, but all four of those losses were to the top four teams in these rankings. In fact, the only loss the Boilermakers have this season to a team lower than them was their early-season slip-up against Penn State. Playing Ohio State as close as they did on the road proves that this team absolutely has potential to compete. But I don’t think we’ll see Purdue beat any teams better than it the rest of the season, and that includes the postseason.

7. MINNESOTA

Last time around: 8

This week: Ohio State (tonight), at Northwestern (Feb. 18)

Again, I have nothing but respect for Tubby Smith and the Golden Gophers, as this team is clearly not the seventh-most talented team in the conference. Playing above your potential is tough to do in a league as strong as the Big Ten, and it’s hard not to root for Minnesota to make the NCAA Tournament. The Gophers might need a big win down the stretch to get their ticket to the Dance, but the road is tough enough to allow for a win like that to come. That being said, that tough schedule could cripple Minnesota down the stretch.

8. NORTHWESTERN

Last time around: 9

This week: at Indiana (Feb. 15), Minnesota (Feb. 18)

Northwestern needs another big win to couple with its upset victory over Michigan State in order to make the NCAA Tournament, which would be its first bid ever to the Dance. And the Wildcats will have their chances — games against Indiana, Michigan State, and Ohio State are good opportunities, especially when the latter two are at home. It’s almost unfair for Northwestern, considering how tough the schedule has been. But it’s time for the Wildcats to kick it into gear or go home for another quiet March.

9. ILLINOIS

Last time around: 6

This week: Purdue (Feb. 15), at Nebraska (Feb. 18)

Yikes. The Illini are quickly looking like they don’t deserve an NCAA Tournament bid after losing six of seven in-conference matchups, including three losses against Northwestern, Penn State, and Minnesota. And when your Athletic Director refuses to give a vote of confidence to your coach on the hot seat, that’s never a good sign. With the way Illinois is falling in the Big Ten, I don’t think this team has the right equation to be an NCAA Tournament team. And if that’s true, I don’t think we’ll see Bruce Weber back in Champaign next season.

10. IOWA

Last time around: 10

This week: at Penn State (Feb. 16), Indiana (Feb. 19)

After starting out so impressively on the road, the Hawkeyes are now a strong team at home and weak on the road, winning three of four at Carver-Hawkeye and losing its last three away from Iowa City. The Hawkeyes are still a year or two away from being NCAA contenders, but the nucleus is looking positive going forward, especially with guys like freshman Aaron White continuing to play and improve admirably.

11. PENN STATE

Last time around: 12

This week: Iowa (Feb. 16), Wisconsin (Feb. 19)

Penn State is out of the Big Ten cellar with a win over Nebraska, but chances for upward mobility still look slim, despite the positive news. That’s what happens when you lose eight of your last nine games. Home court for the Nittany Lions has provided some interestingly close games against better competition, and there’s still a chance we could see an upset brewing in State College. It’s not something I would bet on though, going forward.

12. NEBRASKA

Last time around: 11

This week: Illinois (Feb. 18)

Oh, Nebraska. That honeymoon didn’t last very long did it? The Huskers only have one game this week, as they get a break from what must’ve been a very tiring Big Ten slate so far, especially for a team not used to playing in the country’s most defensive-minded league. Even Bo Spencer, Nebraska’s star this season, hasn’t looked the same. Don’t count them out for the future though — I feel like Doc Sadler’s got something up his sleeve.

2 comments

  1. Draymond Greeen is not only an excellent basketball player; but, he is the glue guy for MSU. Without him, MSU would probably be mid pack in the B10. Rivals ranked at only #123 coming out of high school. He has become one tough dude.

  2. An 18 year old can turn himself into whatever he sets his mind to. Can’t do much about tall but you can do a lot about tough.

Comments are closed.